ACA warns on banks’ fine print

Banks and finance companies are inserting unfair conditions into their contracts, according to the Australian Consumers' Association submission to the Trade Practices Act review.

The practice shifts the risk unfairly onto the consumer, the Association claims. In its submission, the ACA accuses several companies of placing unfair conditions on the purchaser of goods and services, and names St George Bank, the Commonwealth Bank, GE Capital Finance and Colonial State Bank, amongst others.

If Colonial State Bank mortgage holders don't pay their Colonial credit cards on time, for example, the loan contract states that the borrower is in default on his or her mortgage loan. And banks and other lending institutions often have clauses in their contracts stating that they may change the loan conditions at any time.

The ACA said that there is no specific blanket law to stop companies from inserting these sorts of conditions into their contracts, and it has called for the Trade Practices Act to be changed to outlaw such practices.